Department of Bioinformatics – BiGCaT

Paper: Longitudinal analyses of the DNA methylome in deployed military servicemen identify susceptibility loci for post-traumatic stress disorder.

September 28th, 2017 by denise.slenter


In order to determine the impact of the epigenetic response to traumatic stress on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this study examined longitudinal changes of genome-wide blood DNA methylation profiles in relation to the development of PTSD symptoms in two prospective military cohorts (one discovery and one replication data set). In the first cohort consisting of male Dutch military servicemen (n=93), the emergence of PTSD symptoms over a deployment period to a combat zone was significantly associated with alterations in DNA methylation levels at 17 genomic positions and 12 genomic regions. Evidence for mediation of the relation between combat trauma and PTSD symptoms by longitudinal changes in DNA methylation was observed at several positions and regions. Bioinformatic analyses of the reported associations identified significant enrichment in several pathways relevant for symptoms of PTSD. Targeted analyses of the significant findings from the discovery sample in an independent prospective cohort of male US marines (n=98) replicated the observed relation between decreases in DNA methylation levels and PTSD symptoms at genomic regions in ZFP57, RNF39 and HIST1H2APS2. Together, our study pinpoints three novel genomic regions where longitudinal decreases in DNA methylation across the period of exposure to combat trauma marks susceptibility for PTSD.

Read the full paper here or here, which was published in Molecular Psychiatry, 20 June 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.120.


Authors: Rutten BPF1Vermetten E2,3,4Vinkers CH2Ursini G5Daskalakis NP6Pishva E1de Nijs L1Houtepen LC2Eijssen L1Jaffe AE5Kenis G1Viechtbauer W1van den Hove D1,7Schraut KG7Lesch KP1,7Kleinman JE5Hyde TM5Weinberger DR5,8,9,10Schalkwyk L11Lunnon K12Mill J12Cohen H13Yehuda R6Baker DG14,15,16Maihofer AX14,15,16Nievergelt CM14,15,16Geuze E2,3Boks MPM2.

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